It’s not normally like this.
When Sweetwater and Loudon met on the football field on Friday, the matchup pitted two Region 3-3A rivals with a combined record of 12-2.
The Redskins’ potent West Coast offense was slated to do battle against the Wildcats’ stout defensive unit, giving the rivalry the type of marquee matchup it rarely sees because both teams don’t often boast strong records when they meet.
But the game ultimately didn’t live up to its billing, as the Redskins (8-0, 4-0 Region 3-3A) cruised past the Wildcats 37-0, handing Sweetwater (5-3, 2-2) its third loss of the season.
“Loudon’s pretty good right now,” Sweetwater head coach Mike Martin said. “They’re very good. Very good football team, senior-heavy. And we do still need to fix some things. But you’ve got to give credit to Loudon. Their coaches had them prepared. They’re tough.
“We didn’t help ourselves out a couple times, but Loudon had a lot to do with that.”
Loudon quarterback Keaton Harig connected with Kyle Smallen for a 27-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter. A botched exchange on the extra point led to the Redskins taking just a six-point lead.
But tailback Drew Jackson quickly extended Loudon’s lead by the end of the first period, rushing for touchdowns of three and 15 yards to push the Redskins ahead, 20-0.
The Wildcats put together a long drive during the second quarter, but junior quarterback Austin Long was sacked on fourth down to turn the ball over back to Loudon. Loudon took a 23-0 lead on a last-second, 25-yard Mark Ridenour field goal before halftime.
During the third quarter, Loudon scored on another Harig to Smallen touchdown pass to go ahead 30-0. A final Redskins touchdown, Jackson’s third rushing score of the game, notched the final points.
“We want to win, compete every game,” Martin said. “If you come up here to Loudon and they’re ranked No. 4 in the state for a reason, they’re pretty good, so we knew we had our hands full.
“You’ve just got to get through it, put it behind you and then come ready to go on Monday.”
Sweetwater dealt with some injuries against the Redskins as well. Sophomore kicker Jonathan Cano suffered an apparent foot injury.
“When (Loudon) got the roughing-the-punter (penalty), (Cano) got his foot hurt,” Martin said. “We’re not for sure what it is.”
Senior running back Drew Hicks, meanwhile, was shaken up during the game’s latter stages but did return to the field.
“(Hicks is) alright,” Martin said. “He just got bent. It wasn’t a hit, hit, hit. It was he got bent and it bothered his neck, but he’s okay.”
Hicks led the Wildcats with 33 rushing yards on 16 carries. Long completed 11 of 21 passes for 118 yards — 61 of which were racked up by senior wide receiver Blake Jenkins.
Sweetwater will travel to Tellico Plains to face off against the county rival Bears on Oct. 25. Tellico (3-5, 1-2 Region 3-2A) lost to Marion County 44-32 on Friday.
If the Wildcats were to beat the Bears, they would complete the county sweep on the season. Sweetwater defeated Sequoyah 43-12 on Sept. 27.